Wednesday May 27, 2009

New PatchFinder tool now available

The new PatchFinder tool is now available on http://sunsolve.sun.com/patchfinder/

It's linked off the main SunSolve Patch page, http://sunsolve.sun.com/show.do?target=patchpage.  Look for the following link immediately under the old PatchFinder search box:

The PatchFinder

Why a new PatchFinder tool ?

The old PatchFinder tool was a pet peeve of mine.  You needed to know at least the 6 digit base PatchID of the patch you were trying to find in order to find it.   Rather self defeating IMHO.

The new PatchFinder tool directly leverages Sun's internal Patch Metadata Web Services to provide a much richer search experience.

Features of the new PatchFinder tool

You can still search by PatchID if you want.  This will override all other search options.

But you can also search for all Recommended or Security patches, and restrict that search, for example, to Solaris 10 SPARC.

By the way, "Recommended" means it's part of the Solaris Recommended Patch Cluster, which contains the latest revision of all Solaris OS patches which fix Security, Data Corruption, or System Availability issues.  See the cluster inclusion criteria definitions by clicking the appropriate heading on the Patch Clusters & Patch Bundles download page, http://sunsolve.sun.com/show.do?target=patch-access.

"Security" includes all patches which address Security issues, including Solaris OS patches and application and middleware patches for other products.

If you click the "OS Patches Only" box, the search results can be restricted to patches for the Solaris OS only, which will exclude application and middleware patches which are not bundled as part of the Solaris OS.  

Advanced Search Capabilities

Click on "Show Advanced Search" for more options.

This gives you options such as searching by CR (Change Request, a.k.a. BugID) number, so if you suspect you've hit a particular bug, you can check whether a patch for that CR is available yet.

Or you can search for patches with particular words in the patch synopsis or keywords fields - e.g. ldap, "patch util", "package util", "pkg util", etc.  These options have limited value as it's difficult to guess the values.

The "Released Before" option is handy if your company has a policy of waiting for patches to "age" a specified number of days after release before you consider applying them.

The "Released After" option is useful to restrict the search to patches released since the last time you checked for patches.

The "README Modified After" option is subtly different to the "Released After" field and is a superset of the "Released After" results in that is also shows patches whose README or patchinfo metadata files have been updated since the patch was initially released - for example, Special Install Instructions may have been added to the README to specify workarounds for issues found post-release which do not warrant the patch being withdrawn from SunSolve (i.e. the patch still does more good than harm for the majority of customers).

You can filter the search further to see only those patches whose README file was modified since you last downloaded patches by using the following search filter combination: For example, if you downloaded patches 30 days ago, you can see which patches which were release 30 or more days ago have had their READMEs modified since then by using the combination: "Released Before" == 30 && "README Modified After" == 30

In all of these time related fields, you can specify actual dates instead of a specified number of days.

The "Patch Property" field enables you to search for things like "Interactive" patches which require manual intervention during installation, "NonStandard" which means they aren't applied using the standard 'patchadd' utility (e.g. firmware patches), or patches which require downtime (Single User Mode, Reboot\*) if applied to the live boot environment.  (Remember, Live Upgrade can be used to minimize the downtime and risk associated with applying patches by applying the patches to an inactive boot environment, thereby avoiding such downtime requirements during or immediately after patch installation.  You can reboot to set the inactive boot environment live at a time that suits you.)

By default, only patches which are currently available for download (i.e. patches which haven't been withdrawn due to issues) are returned in the search results.    You can select "Withdrawn" patches instead to get a list of patches which have been withdrawn from SunSolve due to serious issues.   This is useful to ensure you don't have any withdrawn patches installed on your systems.  I recommend you also select "Show Obsoletes" along with "Withdrawn" so withdrawn patches which have been superseded by replacement good patches aren't masked.  (Note, a Sun Alert is issued whenever a patch is withdrawn, so if you keep abreast of Sun Alert notifications as is advisable, this step is simply a check and balance.)

Fields such as "OS Release", "State", etc., allow multiple options to be selected concurrently from the drop down menu.

Patch Metrics Gathering 

The new PatchFinder tool is also useful for helping you to calculate patch metrics - e.g. the number of Solaris 10 SPARC OS patches released in the last year.

Display and Bookmarking Options

You can also select the number of patches to display in each page of search results returned (default 20), hide the search form so that only the results are displayed (the option is in the top right hand corner of the tool), and order the results by PatchID, Released date, or Synopsis, in either ascending or descending order (by clicking on the appropriate column heading of the results returned).

You can click on a PatchID in the search results returned to display the Patch README.

You can also bookmark the search results returned for future reference.  This is handy if you wish to run the same query regularly. 

Help! 

There's a "Help" summary in the top right hand corner and each search field has it's own help summary marked "?".

What's next ? 

I hope you find this initial version of the new PatchFinder tool useful.

This is a start, not the finished article.   In future versions we plan to provide options to resolve patch dependencies and patch installation order, enable patch download, etc.  

Feedback - what else would you like to see ?

Feel free to provide feedback on features which you'd like to see to the software-update-finder-feedback@sun.com alias or directly to me, Gerry.Haskins@sun.com .  

Our goal is to improve your patching experience.

Friday May 08, 2009

Patch News Update

Solaris 10 5/09 (Update 7) and subsequent Kernel PatchIDs 

The Kernel patch included in Solaris 10 5/09 (Update 7) has now been released to SunSolve.  The PatchIDs are 139555-08 (SPARC) and 139556-08 (x86).  The rest of the patches included in Solaris 10 5/09 are either released or in the process of being released over the next week or so. 

I've updated the Solaris Kernel PatchID sequence listed in http://blogs.sun.com/patch/date/20080416 to reflect this, including the PatchIDs of the post Solaris 10 5/09 (Update 7) sustaining Kernel PatchID and the Solaris 10 Update 8 Kernel PatchID.

We will be releasing a patch bundle containing the set of patches included in Solaris 10 5/09 in the next couple of weeks.  This will be available from the "Solaris Updates Patch Bundle" section on the new look SunSolve Patch Cluster and Patch Bundle page, http://sunsolve.sun.com/show.do?target=patches/patch-access, which now includes a description of the purpose, contents, and update frequency of each patch cluster and bundle.

As always, customers need to have a valid support contract in order to download Solaris patch clusters and bundles.

New PatchFinder tool coming

We plan to release a new PatchFinder tool on SunSolve at the end of May.   This leverages the patch metadata in our release database to provide a much richer customer experience to search for patches.  Further enhancements are planned after the initial deployment.  The old PatchFinder tool will remain available for a transition period.

Zones Parallel Patching Performance Enhancement

The Zones Parallel Patching performance enhancement continues on schedule.  It has been successfully beta tested by a number of key customers who confirm a 3x performance improvement patching zones.   It is on schedule to be released in a revision of the patch utilities patch (119254 SPARC / 119255 x86) in June.

Solaris 10 "Recommended" and Sun Alert Patch Clusters

Improvements to the Solaris 10 "Recommended" and Sun Alert Patch Clusters are on schedule to be deployed before the end of June.  The improvements include an improved install_cluster script (currently available in the Solaris 10 Live Upgrade Zones Starter Patch Bundle and the Solaris 10 Updates Patch Bundles) and other process improvements designed to improve quality.

Solaris 8 Vintage Patch Support Program

The Solaris 8 Vintage Patch Support Program is now up and running.  The first Vintage Solaris 8 patches have been released.

Patches which fix SunAlerts which were issued prior to the April 1 start date of the Solaris 8 Vintage Patch Support program will be released as "normal" (i.e. non-vintage) Solaris 8 patches. 

But all other Solaris 8 patches created after April 1, including patches which fix security issues, require customers to have a Solaris 8 Vintage Patch Support contract to use them.

See http://www.sun.com/bigadmin/topics/vintagepatch/  for further information.

About

This blog is to inform customers about patching best practice, feature enhancements, and key issues. The views expressed on this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle. The Documents contained within this site may include statements about Oracle's product development plans. Many factors can materially affect these plans and the nature and timing of future product releases. Accordingly, this Information is provided to you solely for information only, is not a commitment to deliver any material code, or functionality, and SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON IN MAKING PURCHASING DECISIONS. The development, release, and timing of any features or functionality described remains at the sole discretion of Oracle. THIS INFORMATION MAY NOT BE INCORPORATED INTO ANY CONTRACTUAL AGREEMENT WITH ORACLE OR ITS SUBSIDIARIES OR AFFILIATES. ORACLE SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIMS ANY LIABILITY WITH RESPECT TO THIS INFORMATION. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Gerry Haskins, Director, Software Lifecycle Engineer

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